Father Juan Carlos grew up in San José Villanueva, the next town over from Zaragoza, where COAR is located. He is the oldest of six children. As a child, he was an altar server and his friends and neighbors would always tell him what a good priest he would make. He began to feel a calling to the priesthood.
However, as he grew up and started high school, he began to wonder if God was really calling him, or if he just considered the priesthood because so many people had mentioned it to him.
In his years at COAR, Father JC played for the COAR soccer team and started to think he might want to become a civil engineer. As the oldest child, he was also thinking about providing for his younger siblings. However, Fr. Juan Carlos still maintained a relationship with Fr. Mario Cruz (his parish priest in San José) and Fr. Mario encouraged him to go on a retreat at the seminary in San Salvador, reminding him that if God was really calling him to the priesthood, he would provide for Fr. Juan Carlos’s family in his absence.
He’ll tell you candidly that the retreat talks were sleep inducing, but that at a holy hour on that retreat, Father JC was especially called to an image of the Virgin of Guadalupe and prayed for her intercession. He told her that if she wanted him to become a priest, she would have to take care of his family for him.
And she has ever since, he says. He was sent to study in Mexico City, where he felt at home in prayer at the Cathedral of the Assumption, and then to San Antonio, at Assumption Seminary. When his mother passed away, on August 15th, the Feast of the Assumption, he was comforted knowing that the Blessed Mother continued to watch over him. Coincidentally (or not!), August 15th is also the birthday of St. Oscar Romero and the day we celebrate the anniversary of COAR.
God bless you, Padre. Thank you for sharing your story with us!